The legislation introduced by the Senses. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) would permanently authorize legislation to address domestic violence by encouraging lawyers to provide pro bono legal services to survivors who cannot afford it .
The Pro Bono Work to Empower and Represent (POWER) Act, S. 3115, would permanently extend the authority of the POWER Act, which was enacted in 2018 but will expire after 2022. The Senses. Murkowski and Capito introduced the bill last week with sponsor US Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and US Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
The POWER Act requires that each year the chief justice of every judicial district in the country hold at least one event promoting pro bono legal services to support victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The bill also requires that an event be held every two years in areas with large numbers of Native Americans and Alaska Natives.
Last year, 75 pro bono legal summits were held across the country, attended by more than 43,000 lawyers, thanks to the POWER Act, according to lawmakers.
Noting data from the Alaska Victimization Survey which estimates that 57.7% of Alaskan women have experienced spousal and / or sexual violence, Senator Murkowski said, “We need a holistic approach. to deal with this crisis.
“This is why I am proud to join Senator Sullivan as the original co-sponsor of the POWER Act, which will provide better access to legal services for survivors who otherwise may not be able to afford it. pay them, “said Senator Murkowski.
Lawmakers have stressed the importance for victims of abuse of having access to legal representation. They cited a study which found that 83% of victims represented by a lawyer were able to obtain a protection order against only 32% of victims without a lawyer.
“It is essential that we support survivors of domestic violence and assault,” said Senator Capito. “This includes encouraging lawyers to offer pro bono work that can help victims access and protect essential legal services in the future. The POWER Act is common sense legislation to address domestic violence and sexual assault, and would make a huge difference in promoting the safety of survivors across West Virginia.